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digital business transformationThe most important thing any managed service provider needs to understand when wooing a new client is their state of mind. Not every customer has the same priorities. But, a recent survey of 728 business executives and board members conducted by North Carolina State University and Protiviti, an IT consulting firm, shows a significant shift in the priorities among senior business leaders. The rapid speed of disruptive innovation and resistance to change in their organizations are the top two concerns business leaders have for the coming year. That’s a big jump for issues that, respectively, were the fourth and ninth biggest concerns in 2017.

Economic conditions dropped from first to eighth, and regulatory changes went from second to fourth. The only issue that maintained its position in both studies is cyber security in third place.

Competitive concerns

Clearly, the meteoric rise of companies such as Uber and Airbnb are having an impact on the mindset of business executives. MSPs need to consider how best to position themselves in that context. Most MSPs tend to focus on how they can provider a better IT experience than a in-house IT department. But increasingly many organizations are looking for opportunities to apply IT in ways that generate new streams of revenue — also known as digital business transformation. While it may be easy to dismiss such terms as the buzzword of the day, the fact remains that concerns about new competitors employing advanced technologies to disrupt an entire industry are keeping business executives up at night.

More business executives than ever are aware of the potential impact IT can have on their business. The issue most of them are wrestling with is figuring out how best to seize opportunities and thwart potential rivals. It’s not uncommon for organizations to refer to themselves as a software company that happens to make something or provide a service. But, most business leaders have no idea how to transform their organizations into a software company. Therein lies a major opportunity for MSPs.

DevOps opportunities

The truth is most business leaders are not focused on making IT more efficient. What they really want is to figure out how to become a true software company by embracing modern DevOps processes. Most of the startup companies that might prove to be a threat are using DevOps processes to create applications that take advantage of advanced algorithms and Big Data analytics to provide a better customer experience.

MSPs that present themselves as capable of transforming the way applications are developed and maintained within an organization stand to become not just technology advisors but, more importantly, invaluable strategic partners. Providers of managed services such as IBM have already identified DevOps as a major strategic initiative.

DevOps expertise is hard to acquire. But, if MSPs want to stay relevant in the age of digital business they will need to provide not just access to IT, but also much of the intellectual capital needed to capitalize on IT investments. There are lots of IT services providers. The primary reason business leaders favor one IT provider over another now will come down to which provider gives them the best IT service and access to the best digital business acumen available. MSPs need to up their game accordingly this year.

Photo: Arts Illustrated Studios/

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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